This is a valid question since the resurgence among Christians back toward this tried and true method of education began about 40 years ago. Modern education seeks to train for a job or a career. Classical Christian education prepares students to be excellent learners, rigorous thinkers, and effective doers. Classical Christian education is about who we become, not what we know. At the heart of this aim is the ancient Greek word Paideia (Ephesians 6:4). Paideia is at one level, the transfer of a way of viewing the world from the teacher to the student. At another it shapes and forms the child in terms of his or her desires, passions, and loves. It is essentially the part of upbringing and education that forms the soul of a human being — and it is key to the formation of a culture. Put yet another way, paideia is a description of the values we actually love, the truth we actually believe, and what we assume about the nature of our world. What does education have to do with culture? Classical education recognizes that the answer is “everything.” All schools reinforce some type of paideia (even the government schools). The difference is that classical Christian schools intentionally design their programs to form a Christian paideia.
What is the goal of education? Many schools believe it is about training for a specific vocation. We believe that true education is about forming the soul. As you consider how to educate your child, think about how this choice will influence what your child believes and loves. Who do you want your child to be, not just when they’re 18, but when they are 30, 40, and 50 years old? The goal of classical Christian education is formation, not merely information. We seek to work in harmony with the family, helping to prepare young people to think with depth, believe with courage, and serve with compassion. By analyzing the great ideas of Western civilization and holding them to the light of Scripture, classical Christian students learn wisdom and virtue. Teaching for wisdom and virtue, rather than knowledge alone, alters the focus of education to who we become, not what we know. This enable students to become lifelong learners who don’t see new challenges as barriers but rather opportunities.
Our school is not a “Christianese Factory” either. We are not training robots who know all the right Bible verses but cannot function as Christians in everyday life. We are seeking to train the next generation to take all of Christ into all of life. Whether they become plumbers, teachers, pastors, CEO’s, or prison guards, this sort of Christian formation will prove to be a transforming force in whatever culture our students reside. How do we know this? We’ve learned from the past. 2000 years of historical experience has proven its value. It’s what makes western culture uniquely good and beautiful; it’s how America was born. Why she abandoned it over the last century is another story for another newsletter.
This sounds great in theory, right? How has it played out in actual schools with actual students throughout our nation in the last 40 years? Watch this video from our good friend David Goodwin, president of the Association of Classical Christian Schools, and then look at the results of this independent study of ACCS graduates compared with Christian homeschool, modern Evangelical, Prep school, Catholic, and government school students.